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Steelers consider adding 4,000 seats to Heinz Field

The Steelers are considering adding as many as 4,000 seats in Heinz Field.

The Steelers said Monday that construction could begin in 2012 if the team moves forward with the expansion project in the North Shore stadium, which seats 65,050.

Mary Conturo, executive director of the Stadium Authority and the Sports & Exhibition Authority, said the seats would be in the south end of the stadium, under the scoreboard, and would not change the overall footprint of the stadium.

"They're just beginning to look at whether this is feasible or not," Conturo said. "Financially, more seats generate more revenue for the city and the authority. If it's feasible, it's certainly worth considering."

Conturo said Art Rooney II, the Steelers president and co-owner, briefed Stadium Authority board members individually about the expansion plans before the authority's public meeting yesterday. Rooney could not be reached for comment.

The Steelers said a decision on whether to expand seating by between 2,500 and 4,000 seats wouldn't be made for another year.

Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said that it was "too preliminary for us" for discussions on who would pay for the expansion.

The Steelers contributed about $76.5 million and state and county taxpayers paid $281 million for the stadium that opened in 2001.

The team said a preview of what the expansion might look like will occur Saturday, as temporary stands were built for Saturday's NHL Winter Classic hockey game. More than 67,000 fans are expected for the game between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

The temporary stands in the stadium's south plaza will remain in place for any playoff games that the Steelers host.

If the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, they are guaranteed at least one playoff game.

The Steelers said they wanted to alert the authority to the expansion plans because of the effect the additional fans at football games and other events would have on parking.

The authority, which oversees development of the land between Heinz Field and PNC Park, agreed to spend $20,000 to study parking on the North Shore.

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